Featured Essays

Prominent Defections in 2016: How North and South Korea Responded

By | March 29, 2017

Tom Fowdy looks back at 2016, when two defections made headlines around the world. He finds that, seemingly as usual, the pre-eminent concern on both sides of the DMZ appeared to be scoring geopolitical points.

Unstable Rhetoric: Few Additions, Some Changes, Lots of Omissions

By | February 23, 2017

In the second piece in his series on reading the North Korean media, Martin Weiser looks at the unstable nature of North Korean published rhetoric, which has a tendency to change across formats, and the ways in which this impacts upon reading and interpretation.

The Sino-DPRK Split and Origins of US-DPRK Bilateralism

By | February 20, 2017

Using archival material from the Woodrow Wilson Center, Eungseo Kim dissects the politics of Sino-US détente in 1972. He concludes that Pyongyang’s grievance against Beijing for its refusal to push preconditions for Sino-US diplomatic normalization was why Pyongyang decided it needed to deal directly with the United States.

South Korea’s Identity Gap: Diverging Views on North Korea

By and | January 23, 2017

How close do South Korean youth feel to North Korea vis-a-vis their older compatriots? What do they think about the reunification of a nation long divided? Reviewing the latest survey data and fresh evidence from qualitative interviews, Phillip Lee and Steven Denney confirm what many have long suspected: a growing identity gap.

THAAD and the Great Power Context: Russia’s Regional Interests in Korea

By | January 01, 2017

Taking his cue from Henry Kissinger, Anthony Rinna analyzes the THAAD question from the Russian perspective, viewing the Putin government’s opposition to THAAD deployment in the context of overlapping global and regional aspirations.

Foreign Policy Implications of Park’s Impeachment

By | December 09, 2016

Dr. Leif-Eric Easley assesses the ramifications of President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment for the regional order and considers likely foreign policy scenarios should the Constitutional Court uphold the impeachment motion.

South Korean Democracy: Consolidated or Not?

By | December 07, 2016

Recent research suggesting rapidly declining youth support for democracy in Western states triggered a debate in the New York Times and elsewhere. The decline was found to be real, but not terribly dramatic. What is the situation in South Korea?

Amid Sanctions, a Sino-North Korean Rapprochement

By | November 30, 2016

With the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 2321, the US has managed to lock in UN implementation of a number of Treasury sanctions on North Korea. Will the PRC finally play the role of partner and ratchet up the pressure on the DPRK, or will it continue to say one thing but do another? Adam Cathcart considers the question.

On Reading North Korean Media: The Curse of the Web

By | October 31, 2016

In the first of a series based on evidence from more than two years spent mapping North Korean online media, Martin Weiser highlights patterns in how North Korean organizations operate and how human error and unchecked individual inputs can shape what we come to read.

In the Cradle of Exile: The National Origins of Communist China and Korea

By | August 09, 2016

In this featured piece on “exilic nationalism,” Benjamin Eckton argues that national and revolutionary origins of the North Korean and Chinese state are found in the rough terrain of the Jinggang Mountains and the hills of Manchuria, where Mao Zedong and Kim Il-sung would develop and nurture their ideas of revolution and national liberation.

Kim Jong-un, Jeremy Corbyn, and the Trident Debate

By | July 26, 2016

At a recent Parliamentary debate in London, North Korea was raised time and again as justification for the renewal of Britain’s submarine nuclear deterrent. Adam Cathcart parses what it means for the besieged opposition Labour Party, and peers into shadows of Korean War destruction for the Conservatives.

North Korean Nationalism: Lessons from Pyongyang

By | June 08, 2016

What is North Korean nationalism? Is it the same as the South Korean variant? In a new essay, Steven Denney pauses to reflect on a recent trip to the DPRK, and considers the answers to both of these questions.